Twitter, Facebook: $51 Billion Combined Market Value Erased Since Trump Ban
Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have collectively seen $51.2 billion in combined market value wiped out over the last two trading sessions since they banned President Donald Trump from their platforms following the U.S. Capitol breach.
Large tech firms and a number of Democratic political figures have claimed Trump incited violence at the U.S. Capitol last week. The incident disrupted debates in both the House and Senate as lawmakers were forced to shelter in place while police and security attempted to seize back control.
Trump took to Twitter following the outbreak of violence to call on protesters to “go home in peace.” He denounced the violence as a “heinous attack” that “defiled the seat of American democracy” on Jan. 7. It is unclear who instigated the breach of the building.
Last week, Twitter first placed restrictions on a video the president posted, before temporarily suspending his account, an action followed closely by Facebook. Twitter two days later permanently suspended Trump’s account over two Twitter posts it cited as having violated its policies.
A large number of pro-Trump accounts were also deleted by Twitter and Facebook.The suspended Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump appears on a laptop screen on Jan. 8, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
As users attempted to flee to Parler and other social media websites, Amazon Web Services suspended its service with Parler on Monday morning, triggering a lawsuit from the company hours later.
Most recently, Google’s YouTube removed new content from Trump’s account and suspended his channel for at least a week, saying that the channel violated its policies for “inciting violence.”
“After careful review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to the Donald J. Trump channel and issued a strike for violating our policies for inciting violence,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
“As a result, in accordance with our long-standing strikes system, the channel is now prevented from uploading new videos or livestreams for a minimum of seven days—which may be extended. We are also indefinitely disabling comments under videos on the channel, we’ve taken similar actions in the past for other cases involving safety concerns.”
Google did not have any further comment when asked about what aspects of the content on Trump’s channel had violated its policies.
The president has argued that companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook will fail due to censorship.
Big Tech is “doing a horrible thing to our country. … And I believe it’s going to be a catastrophic mistake for them,” Trump said.
Jack Phillips and Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.
North Dakota Bill Would Let Censored Citizens File Lawsuits Against Facebook, Twitter
A bill proposed by Republican lawmakers in North Dakota could enable lawsuits to be filed against Twitter and Facebook by users who have seen their accounts deleted or censored.
The new bill (pdf), sponsored by six legislators, is titled, “an Act to permit civil actions against social media sites for censoring speech,” and it stipulates that websites with more than 1 million users would be “liable in a civil action for damages to the person whose speech is restricted, censored, or suppressed, and to any person who reasonably otherwise would have received the writing, speech, or publication.”
For individuals who have been censored, compensation includes “treble damages for compensatory, consequential, and incidental damages,” according to the bill.
North Dakota state Rep. Tom Kading (R), a sponsor of the bill, explained his rationale.
“It’s just wrong to ban a sitting president,” Kading told the Grand Forks Herald, adding that the proposal is meant to provide a legal tool for those who live in North Dakota. He was referring to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms taking action against President Donald Trump.
Kading further argued that Facebook and Twitter, namely, violate their own terms of agreement signed by users after they ban or restrict content related to politics.
Twitter’s rules stipulate that the site has “a zero tolerance policy against violent threats,” and a post can be removed if it “includes a declarative call to action that could harm a specific individual or group.” However, some critics of Twitter have argued that the firm has overstepped its bounds by creating its own definition and adds context about what “violent threats” may be, while some have highlighted double-standards around content.
Some experts said the proposed bill would not have an effect.
Attorney Akiva Cohen wrote on Twitter that the law “would immediately be deemed void as preempted by Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act],” because “federal law is supreme over state law where they conflict, and this would create an express conflict.”
Section 230 has been criticized by conservatives as a law that essentially serves as a liability shield for Twitter and Facebook. The 1996 law states that providers and users of computer services shouldn’t be held liable for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
The law gives a shield to companies that moderate user-generated content. Trump and other Republicans have said it should be repealed, arguing that Big Tech firms have essentially overstepped their bounds by moderating content.